Many of us grew up with the adage: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” We were taught to see past the surface and look for the good beyond superficial appearances. However, our initial judgments often ignore pleasantries when evaluating first impressions. This is partially why dress codes can be important in the corporate world. Effective workplace communication helps leaders to better understand their employees and then look beyond those initial perceptions and actually learn more about who they are and what their potential might be.
It, of course, does take less time to gauge others by how they look than by what they can contribute, however, we all have learned that looks can be deceiving. In the work environment, we need to remember that a critical evaluation beyond simply appearances is more important than just an issue of good manners; rather it can actually be vital to the company success. We might judge others on initial perceptions however, the reality is what brings results at the end of the day.
More efficient employees might find themselves wasting time just to produce the same number of hours as their colleagues. What people notice drives us more than realistically evaluating what we have accomplished. Therefore it is truly up to management to encourage efficiency, high performance, and productivity and to reward and acknowledge contributions in a consistent and meaningful manner.
Hours-based productivity, which is a remnant of the industrial age is just not really effective in motivating modern professionals. Watching the clock to judge when it is time to quit working conflicts with the specific demands of each task or project, especially when timelines need to be adhered to and deadlines need to be met. Long meetings are not very effective as one’s attention spans begin to waiver after less than an hour and then the outcomes will not be satisfactory. Therefore to run results-oriented meetings you need to prepare reasonable agendas and be sure to assign specific tasks to the appropriate person and also give them very clear deadlines for those tasks. Taking a more regimented approach to structuring meetings requires increased communication. Leaders have to plan ahead, communicate with employees before the meeting and follow-up with individuals after the meeting. Following a communication process will help keep perceptions in check with reality.
Great efficiency usually comes from looking for “the big ideas, not the intricate details.” In other words, it is better to communicate clearly, honestly, impactfully and with influence with your employees rather than just reading long reports to them. Have them research information and report to the group and that will give them a purpose and they will feel responsible to contribute as best they can. In this way, you are encouraging questions and allowing employees to determine their relevancy and feel good about taking on added responsibilities. This also enhances employee engagement and motivation.
When judging an employee’s workplace efficiency, it is better to look for an objective measure of their success. If this approach is taken this can help managers to move beyond their perceptions and truly understand the potential of their people and then help them to fulfill that promise. Many managers preferred certain employees simply because they worked long hours, however, in the end, they had little substance to show for all of their time spent at the office. Effective workplace communication should occur on multiple levels and if you know your employees well, you will be able to determine just how best to communicate with each one of them. If this is done, there will be more success, more creativity and higher performance by everyone.
Even when you choose to pursue results over hours, you may still run the risk of perception overruling the reality of your efficiency as an employee. Managers and employees must work together to define their efficiency and productivity by ranking tasks assigned and by employing objective measures to determine the particular priorities of their organization. Efficiency is not just doing something quickly, it might actually require some overtime in order to meet deadlines, however, motivated and engaged employees will likely be happy to do that on occasion when it is necessary.
Regular assessments can help remove some of the guesswork when communicating with employees. In addition, solid feedback when instructions are offered is another way to determine that the message sent was, in fact, the one received and that will result in fewer disappointments, resentments, complaints, confusion, and conflict. In fact, there will be less stress altogether and that will enhance performance, efficiency, creativity, and happiness in the work environment. All of that will mean less downtime, less turnover and higher engagement. The projects employees complete and they do them should be the true test of their effectiveness. Effective workplace communication takes more effort than just relying on only our perceptions and that is why Active Listening needs to be employed to ensure that directions were understood and fewer mistakes will be ensured.